Botswana – facts and numbers

Botswana – a country on the move

In the 1970s Botswana was on the list of the poorest countries in the world with a GPD per capita of barely $200 a year. The economy was not noteworthy and the only real export was meat. This export existed only because of European subsidizes.

There were no large cities in the country and amazingly enough only one 12 km long tarmacked road. Education was reserved for the few, barely 100 students applied for admission at the university in Gaborone. It is almost unnecessary to mention the fact that the country did not have a great impact on regional or continental politics.

Much has changed since then; during the last two decades Botswana has been on the list of countries with the highest growth rates in the world. At times the country is known as Africa’s answer to Switzerland. The GPD per capita is increasing to almost $9,000 a year. Each year the university graduated about 15,000 students and the number continues to increase. Botswana now has over 10,000 km tarmacked road and the capital, Gaborone, is a lively and fast-growing city.

This development is to a great extent caused by the discovery of diamonds, but this industry alone will not be able to keep the economy going. The politicians of Botswana are making great efforts to increase tourism in the country, but not at any price. As the government does not want the national parks to be too crowded it is still expensive to travel to Botswana. However, you are guaranteed to have a unique and memorable journey to Africa. The fame and fortune of Botswana is in every way the amazing and incomparable wildlife.

The history of the country is characterized by war; however, the inhabitants remain friendly and helpful in every sense. The country has been managed by sensible and skilled people who have maintained a good relationship with the surrounding countries. The healthy economy of the country is caused by the business talent of skilled politicians.

However, Botswana still faces many challenges in the future; greatest of them all is the problem with HIV and AIDS. 30% of the adult population suffered from HIV in 1998, this is one of the highest percentages in the world. Fortunately the country has the political and financial tools to manage the big problem. President Seretse Khama Ian Khama has introduced “Vision 2016 Campaign” in order to create a HIV-free Botswana in 2016.

Education in Botswana is free but not mandatory. Botswana has over 730 schools and 270 high schools which ensure 12 years of free education. The country now has over 50 schools focusing on higher education. 27% of the population in Botswana is illiterate; however, this number improves on a daily basis.

The Flag of Botswana integrates a black horizontal band of color through the midsection of it on a lighter shade of blue background. The blue colour represents water and is the most dominating colour on the flag. The black and white alternate stripes illustrate the ethnic harmony of the country.

Botswana’s coat of arms displays a zebra which also is the national animal of the country. Botswana has no national bird or flower.

Area: 600,370 km2

Population: 1,639,833 (2006)

Form of government: Democracy

President: Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama

Population density: 2.9/km3

Fertility rate: 2.4 %

Capital: Gaborone

Larger cities: Francistown, Selibi Pikwe, Molepolole, Kanye and Serowe

Independence: 30 September 1966

National day: 30 September

Official language: English

National language: Setswana

Currency: Pula (1 Thebe = 1 Pula)

Economic growth rate: 6.2%

GPD: US$10.1 billion

GPD per capita: US$8.370